Can I Have Sex When I'm Sick?

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

While being sick often means losing a desire to engage in much of your regular routine, having sex may be one of your exceptions. If you simply have the sniffles, whether or not it's advisable to have sex when you are sick typically comes down to if your partner minds getting sick too.

Respiratory illness viruses are passed through droplets and saliva, so they are very likely to make your partner sick if you are kissing, breathing close to each others' faces, coughing, or sneezing while in close contact.

Beyond that, though, if you case is more complicated than a minor cold, or you or your partner have certain risk considerations, taking a break from having sex may be in both of your best interests. Here are some things to consider.

Can I Have Sex With a Fever?

Laura Porter / Verywell

If You Have a Fever

If you're running a fever, you're most likely contagious. Fevers generally make you feel achy and tired, so chances are you probably don't even feel like having sex if your temperature is already elevated.

Researchers have looked into the impact of strenuous exercise (to which sex applies) in people with a fever, and they found that it can be dangerous. It can:

  • Make you sicker
  • Increase the risk of dehydration
  • Raise your temperature to dangerous levels

It's best to wait to have sex until your temperature is back to normal. And even then, make sure you're staying hydrated.

If You Have the Flu

If you have the flu (not just a bad cold), it's probably safest to skip the sex until you're better. Influenza is a serious illness and close, physical contact increases the chances you'll pass it to someone else.

Most people who actually have influenza don't have the energy to have sex anyway. You'll probably enjoy it a lot more if you wait until you're healthy, too.

When You're Contagious

The duration of time in which you can spread your germs to someone else and make them sick can vary depending on the illness.

Most common illnesses are contagious within the first few days of the start of your symptoms, but some can be spread as long as symptoms are present and even before they start or after they have subsided.

The flu is contagious a full 24 hours before symptoms start, and you're contagious for five to seven days after that occurs. That means, even if you're starting to feel better, you may still be able to pass on the virus.

If you have a weak or suppressed immune system, you may be contagious for even longer.

Consider Your Partner's Health

If your partner isn't sick with the same illness you are dealing with, they would probably prefer to avoid getting sick. Discussing the possibility is a good idea even if the healthy partner is the one initiating the intimacy.

Something else to consider is how your illness may affect your partner. If they're in a high-risk group or likely to have more serious symptoms than the average healthy person, taking chances with health isn't worth it. Often, being in this high-risk group warrants a flu shot as a preventive measure.

If you have a chronic health condition that could be impacted by sexual activity, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you're healthy enough for sexual activity—especially if you have an illness like the flu on top of your usual health issues.

A Word From Verywell

Most people aren't interested in having sex when they are sick—or they aren't interested in having sex with someone who is sick. Be sure to let your partner know about your current health status so they can make an informed decision, and do what seems right for protecting you both. And remember that the definition of intimacy involves more than sex. Consider other ways you can connect while you recover.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can having sex help me get over a cold faster?

    There's no evidence that's the case. In fact, you may prolong the length of your cold by using energy your body needs to recover. That said, sexual arousal may temporarily relieve a stuffy nose when adrenaline causes blood vessels throughout the body to constrict, reducing blood flow to vessels in the nasal passages and sinuses.

  • Can having sex help prevent illness?

    Maybe, at least according to one very small study that found people who had sex once or twice a week also had higher levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA) in their saliva than did those who had sex less frequently, not at all, or three or more times a week.

  • Is there a safe way to have sex during the COVID epidemic?

    If you mean is it possible to be that physically close to someone and be 100% certain neither of you will be infected, the answer is no. Even if you and your partner are fully vaccinated, it's still possible to become infected and to pass the virus to someone else. It's even possible to have a breakthrough infection that causes symptoms, though if you're vaccinated you're unlikely to become seriously ill.

  • When can my partner and I have sex after one of us has had COVID-19?

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying away from other people after being ill until:

    • It's been at least 10 days since symptoms started.
    • Your symptoms have cleared up or are improving (though some symptoms, such as loss of taste or smell, can persist long after a person is no longer infectious).
    • It's been at least 24 hours since you had a fever (meaning fever-free without having taken a fever-reducing medication).
Was this page helpful?
8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stay Home When You Are Sick. Updated April 9, 2019.

  2. Dick NA, Diehl JJ. Febrile illness in the athleteSports Health. 2014;6(3):225-231. doi:10.1177/1941738113508373

  3. Meissner HC. How are respiratory viruses transmitted? AAP News. 2014;35(1):1 doi:10.1542/aapnews.2014351-1a

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How Flu Spreads. Updated August 27, 2018.

  5. Cleveland Clinic. Surprising Relief for Your Stuffy Nose? Have Sex. Published Mar 22, 2018.

  6. Charnetski CJ, Brennan FX. Sexual frequency and salivary immunoglobulin A (IgA)Psychol Rep. 2004;94(3 Pt 1):839-844. doi:10.2466/pr0.94.3.839-844

  7. Harvard Health. Intimacy, sex, COVID-19. Published Apr 15, 2020.

  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19. Quarantine and Isolation. Updated July 29, 2021.